Global maps of soil temperature

This is a Preprint and has not been peer reviewed. The published version of this Preprint is available: This is version 2 of this Preprint.

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Jonas J Lembrechts , Johan van den Hoogen , Juha Aalto, Michael Ashcroft, Pieter De Frenne, Julia Kemppinen, Martin Kopecký, Miska Luoto, Ilya M. D. Maclean, Thomas Ward Crowther


Research in global change ecology relies heavily on global climatic grids derived from estimates of air temperature in open areas at around 2 m above the ground. These climatic grids thus fail to reflect conditions below vegetation canopies and near the ground surface, where critical ecosystem functions are controlled and most terrestrial species reside. Here we provide global maps of soil temperature and bioclimatic variables at a 1-km² resolution for 0–5 and 5–15 cm depth. These maps were created by calculating the difference (i.e., offset) between in-situ soil temperature measurements, based on time series from over 1200 1-km² pixels (summarized from 8500 unique temperature sensors) across all of the world’s major terrestrial biomes, and coarse-grained air temperature estimates from ERA5-Land (an atmospheric reanalysis by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts). We show that mean annual soil temperature differs markedly from the corresponding 2 m gridded air temperature, by up to 10°C (mean = 3.0 ± 2.1°C), with substantial variation across biomes and seasons. Over the year, soils in cold and/or dry biomes are substantially warmer (3.6 ± 2.3°C warmer than gridded air temperature), whereas soils in warm and humid environments are on average slightly cooler (0.7 ± 2.3°C cooler). The observed substantial and biome-specific offsets underpin that the projected impacts of climate and climate change on biodiversity and ecosystem functioning are inaccurately assessed when air rather than soil temperature is used, especially in cold environments. The global soil-related bioclimatic variables provided here are an important step forward for any application in ecology and related disciplines. Nevertheless, we highlight the need to fill remaining global gaps by collecting more in-situ measurements of microclimate conditions to further enhance the spatiotemporal resolution of global soil temperature products for ecological applications.



Climate, Earth Sciences, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Environmental Monitoring, Environmental Sciences, Life Sciences, Oceanography and Atmospheric Sciences and Meteorology, Physical Sciences and Mathematics, Soil Science


Microclimate, Soil climate, Soil temperature


Published: 2021-03-21 09:09

Last Updated: 2021-08-24 21:45

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Data and Code Availability Statement:
SoilTemp maps are made available for free, see